Visualize the abundance of elements in the earth’s crust

Visualize the abundance of elements in the earth’s crust

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The elements of the earth’s crust provide all the basic building blocks of humanity.

But even though the crust is the source of everything we find, mine, refine, and build, it only scratches the surface of our planet.

After all, the innermost layer of the Earth, the core, represents 15% the volume of the planet, while the mantle occupies 84%. representing the rest 1% is the crust, a thin layer that extends to depth of about 5-70 km (~ 3-44 miles).

This infographic takes a look at what makes up that 1%, based on data from WorldAtlas.

Elements of the Earth’s Crust

The crust is a rigid surface containing both oceans and land masses. Most of the elements are found in trace amounts in the earth’s crust, but many are abundant.

The earth’s crust consists of about 95% igneous and metamorphic rocks, 4% shale, 0.75% sandstone and 0.25% limestone.

Oxygen, silicon, aluminum and iron represent 88.1% of the mass of the earth’s crust, while 90 other elements make up the remainder 11.9%.

Rank Element % of the earth’s crust
1 Oxygen (O) 46.1%
2 Silicon (Si) 28.2%
3 Aluminum (Al) 8.2%
4 Iron (Fe) 5.6%
5 Calcium (Ca) 4.1%
6 Sodium (Na) 2.3%
7 Magnesium (Mg) 2.3%
8 Potassium (K) 2.0%
9 Titanium (Ti) 0.5%
ten Hydrogen (H) 0.1%
Other elements 0.5%
Total 100.0%

While gold, silver, copper, and other base and precious metals are among the most sought-after elements, together they represent less than 0.03% of the earth’s crust en masse.

# 1: oxygen

Oxygen is by far the most abundant element in the earth’s crust, constituting 46% of mass – coming in just under half of the total.

Oxygen is a highly reactive element which combines with other elements to form oxides. Some examples of common oxides are minerals such as granite and quartz (oxides of silicon), rust (oxides of iron), and limestone (oxides of calcium and carbon).

# 2: silicon

Over 90% of the earth’s crust is made up of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust.

Silicon binds with oxygen to form the most common minerals on Earth. For example, in most places, sand is primarily composed of silica (silicon dioxide) usually in the form of quartz. Silicon is an essential semiconductor, used in the manufacture of electronic and computer chips.

# 3: Aluminum

Aluminum is the third most common element in the earth’s crust.

Due to its strong affinity for oxygen, aluminum is rarely found in the elemental state. Aluminum oxide (Al2O3), aluminum hydroxide (Al (OH) 3), and aluminum potassium sulfate (KAl (SO4) 2) are common aluminum compounds.

Aluminum and aluminum alloys have a variety of uses, from aluminum foil to rocket making.

# 4: iron

The fourth most common element in the earth’s crust is iron, which accounts for more than 5% of the mass of the earth’s crust.

Iron is obtained mainly from the minerals hematite and magnetite. Of all the metals we mine, more 90% is iron, mainly to make steel, an alloy of carbon and iron. Iron is also an essential nutrient in the human body.

# 5: Calcium

Calcium represents approximately 4.2% of the earth’s crust by weight.

In its pure elemental state, calcium is a soft, silvery-white alkaline earth metal. It is never found isolated in nature but rather exists in compounds. Calcium compounds can be found in a variety of minerals, including limestone (calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulfate), and fluorite (calcium fluoride).

Calcium compounds are widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries for supplementation. They are also used as bleaches in the paper industry, as components in cement and electrical insulators, and in the manufacture of soaps.

Dig the earth’s crust

Despite Jules Verne’s novel, no one has ever traveled to the center of the Earth.

In fact, the deepest hole ever dug by mankind is about 12 km (7.5 miles) below the Earth’s surface, about one-third of the Earth’s mantle. It took about 20 years to reach this incredible depth.

Although humanity is constantly making new discoveries and looking for the stars, there is still a lot to explore on the Earth we stand on.


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